RV Tips

How to Stay Connected

Trailervania Wireless
Trailervania Wireless

Many of you know that Charlie and I both work online. This 2 year trip is dependent on a few things and one of those is the internet. Without the internet, we can’t work. Without work, we don’t get a paycheck. Without a paycheck, we don’t have a camper, and many other things. You get the idea. I did a TON of research on this topic and with cellular coverage getting better everyday, I was nervous but confident that we’d be able to connect in most places. : )

What happens when we can’t get a connection? Thankfully we’ve not had to deal with this yet. There have been several times when the campground wireless would slow to a crawl and getting anything done online was very frustrating. We’d mentally make a note of the time of day and eventually we could time when the internet was good and when it was bad. The demographic at RV parks consists of mostly retired folks so they’re out adventuring during the day. We knew we could work after 9am ish until around 1pm or 2pm. Around 1pm or 2pm maybe everyone is in their camper enjoying lunch and catching up on email, facebook, pinterest, etc. This became our lunch time to step away from the computer. Then between 2pm and 3pm the internet would free up again until around 6pm. After 6pm, forget it. I’m not even sure how people who are using the internet at that time even have the patience to stay connected. It’s worse than my first 2400 baud modem. LOL!

There were days where the schedule above didn’t work out and we had to resort to other options.

My job provides my with an iPhone and an iPad. Both of which now are 4G capable and both are hotspots. This works well, but you’ve gotta watch the usage as data limits apply. My job requires me to be online every Tuesday for our weekly Skype meeting (voice only so I can stay in my pajamas). I checked data usage prior to a meeting and then after. With 4 people on Skype voice only, the meeting lasted about 3.5 hours and used about 550MB (megabytes). Not bad since the work plan has a collective 10GB (gigabyte) usage limit. I use the word ‘limit’ loosely as Verizon will let us go over the 10 GB plan allowance and bill us for every 1 GB over.

How does Charlie stay online? We have a personal Verizon Wireless plan as well and purchased a 4G hotspot. She also has an iPad that’s 4G capable and a hotspot as well. Her iPhone can become a hotspot but it’s only 3G (slower than 4G) so she only uses it for a hotspot when absolutely necessary.

We realize not all places will have 4G, but so far the coverage with Verizon has been pretty good. The campground in GA was on the outskirts of 4G so our 3G signal was pretty good, although there seemed to be some interference as we would often bounce from the 3G network to the ‘O’ (older) network. Very odd and annoying, but again, the campground wireless was sufficient for most of our needs.

We arrived in Kissimmee, FL for our 5 months stay to avoid winter completely. The cable provider here is Bright House. We asked the front desk if they provided cable internet for long terms stays. They do, we signed up, and on day 2 we now have cable internet in our camper….just like home. It’s $29 per month and no data limits. We’ve got our Roku box connected up and we’re streaming from Netflix and Hulu once again. You can stream Netflix and Hulu from your computer or mobile device, but again, data limits apply so be very careful when doing this. HD shows/movies use a TON of bandwidth. Research shows that a standard definition movie or show streamed from netflix uses about 400MB (megabytes) per half hour. That same 30 minute show in high definition uses about 1.5GB (Gigabytes). Compression works a little differently for movies. A standard definition movie would need about 500MB to 700MB depending on the length of the movie and a high definition movies uses about 3.6GB (gigabytes) for a 2 hour film. If you have a 6GB plan from Verizon this means you could watch one HD movie, and about 3 standard definition movies and reach your limit. Needless to say, we’ve done zero streaming using our hotspots.

Here’s a few alternatives I’ve looked at but have not yet moved forward. Once we get out west, staying connected may become more difficult as coverage is more sparse. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but at least it looks like we have options.

Exede Satellite Internet: Their pricing seems reasonable and they boast of speeds rivaling those of a home connection. I’ve not tested or tried this service, but they’ll be the first I call if the need for satellite internet arises. You’ll still have to be mindful of data limits.

Millenicom: I recently learned of this service. From what I can tell, they use Verizon towers, are 3G and 4G capable and don’t have data limits. Pricing is very reasonable.

As we plan future trips, if we decide to go ‘off grid’ we’ll do so for only a limited time as our livelihood depends on the internet. One of the top items on my bucket list is to make it to Montana, go completely off grid, turn everything off, and just stare up at the stars on a clear night.

RV Tips

Can I Tow with my Propane On So the Refrigerator will Stay Cold

RV Propane
RV Propane

After doing a ton of research on this subject the decision is really split. There are as many arguments for towing with propane on as there are towing with propane off.

Why would one want the refrigerator running while they’re towing? Simple, so when they pull over at a rest area, they can have lunch in their RV with cold drinks, cold lunch meat, ice, etc. A pretty good reason if you ask me.

Since we’re newbie’s the first time we towed, we decided to tow with the propane off. We put the refrigerator on high the night before so it would be nice and cold when we cut power. We cut power, hooked up, and headed out. If you haven’t read our other posts, we were going from Pigeon Forge, TN to Brunswick, GA. A trip that should’ve taken about 8 hours actually took about 10 hours.

10 hours later, we arrive at our destination. We did stop for lunch at a Pilot, but didn’t get into the fridge because we had let our food supplies run low since we were moving. I was pleasantly surprised to find the fridge still nice an cold when we arrived in Brunswick. 10 hours without power, without propane and the ice was still frozen.

When towing to our second destination 4 hours from Brunswick, GA to Kissimmee, FL again, we left the propane off, turned the refrigerator on high the night before, cut power and everything was nice and cold when we arrived in Kissimmee. Ice and all. : )

I’m guessing even on the 10 hour trip, we could’ve open the fridge to get out whatever we needed to have lunch and everything would’ve still been fine when we arrived in Brunswick.

In the end, it’s really going to boil down to a personal preference, but I like to err on the side of safety. I realize the propane system on an RV is very safe, but if an accident were to happen while towing and propane line gets busted open, that could really spell disaster. And now that we know the fridge will stay cold even on long trips, there’s no need to tow with the propane on.

RV Tips

Everything is $300

everything-is-300-dollarsDuring our search for the perfect RV, I had done mounds of research to figure out exactly what sort of supplies we needed.  There are several sites out there that suggest what you’ll need so I took the most mentioned items from those lists and compiled my own.

Having never even spent the night in a camper before I was soaking this stuff up like a sponge.  And if you know me, I’d rather be over prepared than under prepared.  But I had to contain myself because having too much stuff now could become a burden.

First and foremost, you have to think lightweight.  So you really need to think about the stuff you absolutely need.  That’s my mindset while shopping.

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The grand total for this order was right around:  $300.
Now we’ve got the necessary supplies, it’s time to look at proper towing equipment.
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Yep, the towing equipment cost right around $300 as well. 2 orders = $600. : (

Our rainy day fund is quickly depleting and we haven’t even started yet. Crap, I’m getting nervous. Our move out date is quickly approaching.

Now for the other stuff:[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Now the truck seems to be cranking rather slow. Bad batteries. 2 batteries were just under $300.
  • I took the truck where our RV was stored to get the towing equipment installed. This way they could do the leveling, and everything else they needed on the spot. I caught a break. It was only $200. : )
  • The silverware we had at home was too heavy, our plates were too heavy, etc. So we had to buy something more lightweight. Our towels were too big, our bed sheets were for a king size bed and camper has a queen. It was sort of like we were starting over…..$300
  • Our existing LCD TV’s were too big at at 42″ so we had to get a 32″ LCD…$300
  • How do we get our mail while on the road? My RV Mail. $200 per year if you’re a Passport America member. We joined up for the savings. My RV Mail works GREAT!
  • The cats and dog needed their shots and all their meds before we left…..$300.

With the items listed above and other miscellaneous items we’ve purchased, we’ve probably spent close to $2,000. Ouch!

Long story short, by day 3 in the camper after we were settled, one of my first thoughts were why didn’t we do this sooner. If you’ve been pondering the thought of going mobile, save up, get your stuff in order, and do it. You won’t regret it.